Jul 19 2012
In the summer of 2008, I moved to Manhattan to be an editorial intern at Fortune Magazine. The internship was two months long, and I moved into the spare room of my boyfriend’s brother’s apartment in the lower East Side. The apartment fulfilled all the stereotypes I had about New York City living. My designated living space was also part of the kitchen, and I slept on a lofted bed which overlooked the top of the fridge and beyond that, the stove. Up on that bed I had a stack of books and an alarm clocked wedged in one corner, a small box television perched on the edge of the window sill, and two huge body pillows resting against the guard rails, for added cushioning. It was claustrophobic but had character, and was perfect for my brief stay in the big city.
Among that stack of books on my bed was my Not For Tourists Guide to New York City, which became an extension of me during my two months in Manhattan. I had lived in Boston for two years by then, but was immediately a bit wary of New York City life. I was most intimidated by the many subway lines, a mix of colors and letters and numbers all tangled into a large knots on the poster sized subway maps. That was what drew me to the NFT guide in the first place. The NFT Guide divides a city into sections, with their own rectangular maps. They give you the same map a few times, each map highlighting something different – the area’s transportation, entertainment, essentials and sundries. I could go the neighborhood I was in and orient myself, and then go to transportation page, find the closest subway stop, and flip to the back and see how far that line stretched. The book was handsome, black and pocket-sized, perfectly suited for what I was: not exactly a tourist.
It’s not a stretch to say that the NFT Guide helped me love New York. I was determined to learn the city while I was there, and that guide gave me the confidence to walk home from work nearly every day. I lived on 19th and 3rd and worked at 50th and 6th, 31 blocks and three avenues away. I took different paths, most often cutting through Murray Hill (affectionately known as “Curry Hill” my NFT guide told me, the place I could find authentic Indian food). When my boyfriend came to visit me, we walked the opposite direction, weaving through Greenwich Village and SoHo, where the grid ends and the confusion begins, all the way down to Battery Park, where we squinted at the Statue of Liberty and napped on the grass before consulting the NFT on the quickest way to get home.
I still have my NFT guide, even though I have no use for it. The cover is creased both at the binding and about halfway down the front from so much folding over. It falls open at a map of the entertainment spots in Flatiron/Lower Manhattan, probably from the times I’d meet up with friends around Penn Station. We’ve moved apartments twice since my time in New York, and yet my NFT Guide is still one of those items that always gets unpacked and shelved. Travel guides are that way. They become part of us when we use them, and then, when they become outdated, they become a relic from the time where we couldn’t go anywhere without them.Read more: General, nft new york city, Not For Tourists, Travel, Travel Tips and Resources